Python Care Guide

Captive Husbandry
Australian Pythons

Antaresia childreni
– Childrens Python 90-120cm
 Antaresia maculosa – Spotted Python 90-120cm

Morelia spilota variegata – Darwins Carpet Python 200cm
Morelia spilota mcdowell – Coastal Carpet Python 210cm
Morelia spilota imbricata – Western Carpet Python 240cm
Morelia spilota metcalfei – Murray Darling Carpet Python 240cm
Morelia spilota cheyni – Jungle Carpet Python 180cm
Morelia bredli– Bredli Carpet Python 240cm

Housing:    Young Pythons under 18 months of age will be best in a Hatchling Haven or similar, until eating well and gaining size.

                   Childrens/Spotted Pythons                     Carpet Pythons
Adult 90cm Terrarium                        Adult 120cm Terrarium

Lifespan: 10-25 years
Lighting: Heat, Broad Spectrum, Naturalistic Lighting UVB Optional.
Temperatures: Hot Spot 33-36C  Cool Side 20-29C
Diet: Frozen rodents, Quail, Rabbits
Ease of Care: Easy                                                                                                            



The Antaresia Family of Pythons, Consisting of the Childrens (Antaresia Childreni) Stimpson’s Python (Antaresia Stimsoni) Spotted Python (Antaresia Maculosa), and Pygmy Python (Antaresia Perthensis) are some of the world’s smallest pythons. In fact, Antaresia Perthensis is the smallest python species in the world, measuring only 61cm in length. The Childrens Python is not particularly named due to its suitability with children, in fact due to the curator of the English Natural Museum of the Late 1800’s J.G.Children. Children pythons in the wild live on rocky outcrops from the Kimberly and surrounding woodlands, to the Gulf of Carpentaria, whereas Spotted Pythons live in similar terrain from Cape York Queensland down to Tamworth and the Eastern Side of the Great Dividing Range. Although at first sight both Children pythons and Spotted Pythons look very similar, they are different species with slight differences in colouration and patterning. Spotted pythons have a prominent pattern of cream to yellowish brown with a prominent blotched pattern, children Pythons are tan to reddish brown, have smaller circular blotches and often fade in pattern as they mature into adulthood.

Carpet Pythons are a family of snakes from the Genus Morelia, Native to Australia and Papua New Guinea, These pythons have managed to find a diversity in colour, pattern and environment, from searing hot deserts to deep jungle rainforests, and dry arid bushlands. Their patterning and colouration gives them their name, reminiscent of the woven carpets of the Middle East. Jungle Pythons and Darwins are on the smaller end reaching about 5 feet in length fully grown, whereas coastal, Bredli and Diamond carpet pythons are on the larger end of the scale measuring up to 8-9 feet in length. Carpet pythons are known for being very easy to care for and handle, they do exceptionally well in a captive environment. Although occasionally juveniles can be snappy, temperamental or fussy feeders, they usually quickly grow out of this with patience.


Pythons are ideally housed separately to prevent injury or cannibalism. Hatchlings and Juveniles should be kept in Hatchling Haven or lockable style tubs. These are inescapable, lockable and less stressful on young pythons.  Adults or early juveniles (over 1.5 years of age) may be kept in larger terrariums, with a minimum of 900x450x600mm for an adult Childrens or Spotted Python, and 120x60x60cm the minimum for an adult Carpet. ExoTerra™ ReptileOne™ vivariums are ideal as they are secure, lockable and ventilated. The bigger the better. Ensure your enclosure is placed in a room that is well lit, away from direct sunlight, quiet and away from frequent activity, ideally with a stable temperature no higher than 20-25C.


Young pythons should be kept on a natural bedding that allows burrowing for security, Aspen Bedding is a great option, Aspen is soft, easy to clean, allows for burrowing and is not hazardous if accidentally ingested. For adults we recommend natural substrates like Desert sand, Quarts sand, Kritter Krumble™, Woodchip, and Aspen (depending on the needs of your particular species). Sands tend to allow dry environments suitable to Bredli and wood substrates help hold humidity preferences by Jungles. Particle substrate allows for natural behaviours like burrowing and aid in shedding.

Hides and Decorations

Hiding places are essential for your naturally shy (and often nocturnal) Pythons. For a sense of security and stimulation, more is better. Place one hide over the heat source, and one on the cool side, provide another that has a moist peat moss or coco-husk inside as a place for your Python to retreat that holds humidity to aid in shedding.

We recommend Exo-Terra Reptile Dens as they allows your Python to be visible for viewing without completely disturbing them. We also recommend Exo-Terra Reptile Cave’s as they are light and spacious and allow an almost completely enclosed hide, which will make your Python feel secure. Half log ornaments and up-turned terracotta pots are also ideal. Your adult python should have access to driftwood, branches, hammocks and logs to stretch out on and roam freely.

Branches allow for your python to bask under heat lamps and find a suitable temperature range while perched up high. All of these python species should be offered branches to climb on regardless of their terrestrial or arboreal natures, all species are capable and willing to use them. Foliage and plastic plants are also put to good use, offering shaded areas and security.



Although Pythons are mostly nocturnal, recent studies are showing a tremendous amount of behavioural changes being made in pythons offered visual lighting and even uvb. We recommend emulating naturalistic environments, with at least a day and night cycle. We recommend a small halogen heat bulb and LED Lighting be fitted to your larger enclosures. This allows a natural temperature swing between day and night, and it also encourages your Python to behave naturally, by giving them a clear day/night cycle. Your python will bask and retreat when needed, and if you choose to offer uvb lighting of an appropriate output for the species, you will often find the animal intentionally basking under these wavelengths.  All bulbs should be kept on mesh top enclosures or in caged fittings.


We recommend a heat mat/cord on a thermostat. The Under Tank Heating (UTH) should be installed correctly allowing adequate air flow, and should always be used with a thermostat as the UTH by itself provides unregulated temperatures. Allow your heat mat/cord to heat no more then 1/3 of the enclosures floor space. This allows a temperature gradient. Set your thermostat to measure the cool end and set it to a cut off temperature of 28-30C. Be sure to have a thermometer probe on the hot spot to monitor the warm end, try to use low wattage mats and bulbs to save energy and manage temperatures. The Thermostat will allow your warm end to heat to the desired temperature without over heating the whole enclosure and will turn your UTH off and on appropriately keeping a stable temperature. Low wattage bulbs can be used as a basking spot heat source as well, in larger enclosures.


Pythons may not have excellent vision, but they do benefit from naturalistic lighting. We use and recommend LED strips, these replicate natural colour spectrums and wavelengths and create a natural day/night cycle. The same can be done with reflector tube form lighting. 2.0 Uv and Exo Terra Natural Light© globes are a great natural visual spectrum for reptiles.

Red Bulbs, these should only be used if you are offering an ambient basking heat source 24/7 through the form of lighting. Ceramic Heat emitters do much the same in offering radiant heat without visible light if you prefer not to see red light throughout the night. Red globes serve a purpose of offering heating, however, used on their own, do not offer full visual light spectrums that are stimulating. Heat Mats and Ceramics are our recommended 24/7 heat course, with a combination of visual lighting for an adequate and natural day/night cycle.


While UvB is not traditionally necessary for most python species, studies show that these animals willingly bask under UV lamps if offered and have a behavioural benefit, and in reality, it is what they would be exposed to in the wild. We suggest a medium output of 5.0 or similar be installed if UvB light is desired. Diamond Pythons in particular, require Uvb Lighting.

Keep in mind that Albino pythons have sensitive eyes; offer hides, foliage and varying degrees of shade to retreat from intense lighting and UvB sources.


Pythons, like all snakes, are opportunistic feeders, capable of going weeks and sometimes months without food. A regular feeding every 7-10 days is suitable and recommended. Thoroughly thawed, frozen rodents of a size large enough to make a small noticeable bump on the pythons shape once ingested should be offered on feeding tongs. Using feeding tongs is an effort to stop your python recognising your hands, smell and body heat as a food source, and is also a great way to keep your hands a safe distance from your pythons bite. Young Pythons should start on one or two pinkie mice weekly, quickly moving to larger mice and then onto rats and possibly larger.

Feeding should occur of an afternoon, as this is when your Pythons have ideally reached an optimum temperature. It is not uncommon for individuals to reject a food item, leave the prey in the enclosure overnight, and remove by morning if uneaten to prevent spoiling. Variety is the spice of life, mix it up between mice, rats and quail. If your python gets large enough, rabbits may also be supplementary to their diet.

We recommend feeding very young Pythons within the enclosure, we suggest using a Tupperware lid of paper towel as a feeding mat to prevent food rolling through substrate. Adults should be removed from the enclosure with a snake hook and placed in a feeding tub or bucket and then offered food. This techniques trains your python to recognise the tub as a feeding area and limits interactions within the enclosure that risk accidental bites. Adult pythons fed inside the enclosure are never really sure whether it’s time to be handled or time to be fed.

IMPORTANT: Newly acquired pythons should not be handled until they have successfully fed at least twice. At which point, slow and short handling sessions can begin. Quite often in the early days, pythons will refuse to feed if over handled and over stressed. Always wait at least 24 hours after a recent feed to handle, to prevent risk of regurgitation or harm.


Pythons, like all reptiles, have a tendency to brumate or slow through winter. It’s a natural means of preserving energy during cooler months when food would naturally be scarce. Brumation is also important in promoting normal ovulation and breeding cycles in adult specimens. Coming into winter your animal will begin to feel the temperature drop of a night and the daylight hours naturally decrease, they may become less active and less interested in food. It is important to check and continue to offer ideal temperatures, particularly if you have a young animal, or you do not intend to breed. Some animals may have a reduction in appetite and refuse feeds. This is normal behaviour, and assuming the animal is showing no other signs of illness or detriment to health and fat stores, there is no need to worry. Particularly young animals that may be experiencing other stresses, such as over handling or relocation stress should be handled less until improvement.

Bites and health issues

Pythons are capable of biting, much the same as a dog can bark and cat can paw, it is their one and only defence mechanism, and their only way to say ‘NO!” or “STOP!”.  Young pythons tend to be nippy as they are often scared easily. Millions of years of evolution has taught them to be cautious, and a quick tag or push is doing just that, a way to issue a warning. Slow and steady movements, long pauses and patience is the key to adjusting a young python into a smooth handler. Pythons do not have teeth like in the movies (big fangs), instead they have many, many small teeth designed to hold onto prey and assist while feeding. If a bite does occur, stay calm, wash site, use an alcohol swab to clean area and apply a Band-Aid. Larger pythons may have a more damaging bite. A python may also bite while mistaking you for food, in this case they often hold on and begin to wrap, simply splash a little cold water on the pythons head and they often let go very quickly.

Pythons do carry salmonella, it is always a good idea to wash your hands before and after handling. Particularly with young children who are likely to put their fingers in their mouths after handling.

The heat and lighting involved in a Pythons setups do get quite hot, be sure to turn all lamps off and let cool before handling fittings or bulbs. For the safety and longevity of your lighting and heating equipment, always run heating and lighting through a surge protected power board

Common health issues

A correct setup, temperature gradient, lighting, water quality and diet is the best prevention for most common issues. Abnormal behaviours should be looked over by a Reptile Veterinarian.

Fungal and Bacterial Infections; Often seen around the mouth and underside, also known as scale rott. Usually from overly wet or damp environments, unsanitary environments and low temperatures. Other causes may be excessively high or low temperatures, excessive stress. Early onset infection can be treated with ointments and medication. Severe or aggressive onset infections should be treated by an exotics Veterinarian as medication may be required.

Dysecdysis; Abnormal or incomplete shedding. Pythons shed their entire skin (when healthy, in one piece) as they outgrow their last layer. Sometimes, scales do not shed completely and can develop build up and possibly infections underneath. This is commonly caused by incorrect humidity or restricted access to water while shedding, and an inability to bask under adequate heat and lighting. Assistance may be required but never force a shed to lift as the skin below may not be ready and may tear.

Respiratory Infections; Often caused by stress, low temperatures and high humidity, respiratory infections give symptoms similar to the flu. Symptoms include Coughing, wheezing, mucus from mouth or nostrils, raising the head vertically for extended periods of time, continual gaping, heavy breathing and lethargy. A vet visit is required for prescription medication to cure a respiratory infection.

Mites; often in unclean environments, introduced through leaf litter/branches/or outdoors exposure or collections with poor quarantine practices, mites tend to irritate and bite between the scales. Pythons often curl up in their water dish and mites may be seen congregating around the face and eye. Treatments are available, and a thorough cleanout of the environment is necessary to prevent re-exposure.

Eye infections; closed, irritated, swollen, or mucus covered eyes, often caused by scratches, or an eye cap shed retained. Eye infections can turn sour quickly without treatment from a vet.

Regurgitation; Often in this case the animal was too cold before offering food or the evening following, the meal was not fresh, or the animal is otherwise in ill health. Check your temperatures, if this continues to be an issue on the next feed, book an appointment with your local exotics veterinarian.


Newly purchased pythons should not be handled until they have successfully eaten at least two feeds. New pythons are adapting to their new environment and settling in to their new homes. Excessive handling causes stress and will often lead to them refusing feeds. Pythons are defenceless while feeding, and cannot easily reject a meal if disturbed half way through, quite often a stressed or unsettled python will not risk feeding in fear of predation. Hooks should always be used when lifting your python from its enclosure.

Hooks ensure that there is at least 60cm distance from your hands to the sharp end of the snake. Young and distressed snakes can be allowed to cling to the end of the hook for a matter of minutes until they calm and venture down towards your hands. Pythons do not like to be restrained, grasped or squeezed.

Handling should consist of lifting slowly from beneath. Young pythons should only be handled for short periods of time, 5-10 minutes at a time will suffice. Pythons accustomed to handling may spend more time out of the enclosure free handling. Always listen to your snake, they will generally tell you when they have had enough time out as they will begin to ‘run’ and try get away, or become irritated. Handling techniques can be taught in store by one of our helpful staff.

Environmental enrichment


All too often a captive life for a reptile can be over simplified and never changing. Your animals will appreciate stimulation. Reptiles are intelligent, high functioning and have incredibly tuned senses and instincts. Behaviours that stimulate hunting or searching for food can stimulate your animals quite easily. Natural substrates, leaf litter, foliage, stone and driftwood can stimulate foraging behaviours. This can be as simple as fresh plants, a change of scenery, river pebbles to investigate around and twisting driftwood to move through. Swapping out or rotating scenery is always a good idea every few weeks.


Pythons are quite easily the lowest maintenance pet, ever. Cleaning: Weekly spot cleaning should be performed, generally speaking, one feed = one poo. Shed skin should be removed when required, and the substrate should be fully removed at least every 2-3 months depending on spoilage. At this point, a good quality and safe enclosure cleaner can be used to sanitize the environment. Feeding: Once every 7-14 days, depending on age.


Pythons, like all reptiles and amphibians in NSW are protected species, by law a Permit is required to keep. A Companion animal will allow you to keep just one Reptile, where as a Basic Class One Licence will allow you to keep multiples, and different species. Applying for your permit is easy to do online at applicants must be over the age of 16. A valid, in date Reptile keepers licence must be visually cited in store to purchase an animal, accompanied by the licence holder.

Best of luck!

If you have any further queries or questions, please don’t be afraid to ask one of our helpful staff members in store, on the phone or by email.


Check List


  • Terrarium Enclosure (Hatchling haven for young)
  • Heat Lamp; Aim for low wattage, but enough to heat to get one area (basking spot) to 33-36C
  • Visual Light; The brighter the better! A Visual light heightens natural behaviour.
  • Thermometer; A good Dual Zone Thermometer with Probe is ideal.
  • Thermostat; highly recommended for those hot summer days to prevent overheating.
  • Timer; A good thermostat will generally do this for you, but a timer makes life easier.


  • Substrate; we recommend Aspen Bedding.
  • Basking spot and driftwood; Driftwood or hammock to get your python within 20cm of heat.
  • Hide; we recommend half logs and hide ornaments. .
  • Background; Easy to install, natural looking, and climbable.
  • Artificial Plants; These enable your young python to hide and feel secure.
  • Water Bowl


  • Frozen Rodents.


  • Snake Hook
  • Feeding Tweezers
  • Enclosure Cleaning Sanitizer
  • Shed-Aid Spray


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